Posts Tagged ‘Mythology’

Lord Raama, Is that you?

Posted: August 28, 2012 in Mythology, Social
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“And that’s why we say that you should pray the lord before you go to bed. Make it a habit to chant ‘ramaskandam hanumantham‘ before you sleep and then you will see that you will never get such bad dreams” – so said my mother and put to rest my fear of bad dreams that kept recurring in my mind ever since I had had a bad dream the previous night. “It is said that even sage Valmiki, once a dacoit, on his transformation to being a good mortal, was advised by sage Narada to ceaselessly chant ‘Mara’ (reverse of Rama) when Valmiki was unable to chant lord Raama’s name” – I remember her saying something like this that day before our discussion ended. I must have been around 10 years then, and Since that day, I don’t remember sleeping a night without praying my Lord Raama. Lord Raama is more than just a God for me, he is faith, he is liberation, and he is my guard.
I have read somewhere that the name Raama encompasses three syllables: Ra, Aa, and Ma. Ra signifies Agni (Fire God); Aa, Surya (Sun God); and Ma, Chandra (Moon God). Fire God burns all sins, Sun God dispels darkness, and Moon God cools one’s temper and produces tranquility—in essence fostering the harmony of thought, word, and deed.
“When in distress, you should always remember your favorite deity. For some unknown reason, Guru Raghavendra comes to my mind every time I am in distress…” she had said on another instance. That was when this question occurred to me – who is my favorite deity? and the answer to the question occurred as instantaneously – Lord Raama, Lord Ganesha. Some time as recently as 7 years back I added lord Hanumaan to the list.

Mythology has always caught my curiosity, I love reading books on mythology, especially stories of my favorite deities. One such book that caught my attention was ‘Ramayana’ (Valmiki’s version) by Sri Rajgopalachari. The narration of the story is simple and elegant, and is written keeping the youth in mind. His attention to detail, pruning of unnecessary passages, the emotional and the elated tone of the story are all very evident as you read the chapters of the book.
Since I am particularly fond of Raama, with every page I contentedly turned, I eagerly waited for some of the very important episodes of the Ramayana’s mythic past – the Seeta swayamvar, the deceiving illusion of the golden deer that captivated Seeta, the killing of Raavana and lastly, the fire ordeal that Seeta went through to prove her chastity to Lord Raama.
I must tell you that for most part of the book, my state of mind was so elated, I enjoyed reading every word of the book. I took some time off between chapters to assimilate, introspect and also appreciate Sir Rajgopalachari on his marvelous writing. As I turned through the chapters, I both rejoiced and sighed as the pages on the left piled up and the pages on the right diminished, for, I was happy that I was getting closer to some of the most awaited ear marking episodes of Ramayana,but at the same time, sad that I was approaching the end of the book. I relished every page of it and every chapter left me hungry for more.
And finally I landed on the page where my Lord Raama takes the brahma-astra in his hand, utters a spell and directs it straight at Raavana, the brahma-astra penetrates Raavana’s armour, pierces his chest where the secret of Raavana’s invincibility is enshrined, and shatters it. This brings the end of Raavana, the evil incarnate.
It was a delight to read the saga of Raama where the Lord Raama and His consorts are born are mere mortals who, given to destiny, experience human sorrow, and go on to establish Dharma on earth.

Now, as I continued to read, I only waited for the union of Raama and Seeta, and their celebration of togetherness after a long episode of distress and battle. But what was yet to come was far from being pleasant. To believe my eyes, I had to go back and read the part again where Raama says ‘How can a kshatriya take back a wife who has lived in a stranger’s house for so long?’. Although I knew well that Seeta takes the fire ordeal to prove to Lord Raama her chastity, given to Lord Raama’s character, I didn’t expect this coming. I felt that it was so unbecoming of him to suspect her chastity and not accept Seeta with open arms. It was painful to read it.
To me it was unsettling that Raama should instigate Seeta to jump into the kindled fire to prove her integrity, after having gone through an emotional turmoil, for no fault of hers. In my eyes, Raama had won the battle, but lost the war.

Before Valmiki’s time, legend had it , that after recovering Seeta, Raama sent Seeta away to live all by herself in a forest, fearing a scandal! This has taken shape as Uttarakaanda of Ramayana. Valmiki, in keeping with Raama’s benevolent character, has portrayed him differently.
However, I can only find some solace in Sir Rajagopalachari’s explanation that since Lord Raama was an avataar of Lord Vishnu, who had taken birth as a mortal to slay the daemon Raavana, Once the target was meted out and victory was achieved by lord Raama, that also marked the end of the avataar and the divinity was lost, after which Raama lived only as the king of Ikshvaaku race. With this explanation, King Raama’a behavior can only be attributed to the customs and thinking that prevailed in those times.
I battled an array of thoughts after the ending of Ramayana stirred up my emotions and invoked my feminist views before I could contain and tell myself that mythology is inevitably bound to the society and time in which it occurs and hence is justified by its prevailing culture and environment.

Seeta’s sorrows have not ended with Ramayana, it is but an ongoing pathos in the lives of our women. A closer look into the society in India today still mirrors the voiceless and endless suffering of our womenfolk.